Up to this point, the 2019 MLB offseason has really lacked that one defining moment. While there have been deals made, like the Los Angeles Dodgers – Cincinnati Reds salary swap, the James Paxton to the New York Yankees deal and the Carlos Santana trade, this offseason truly has not had that big-time deal.
Last offseason was the year of the Miami Marlins yard sale for pennies on the dollar, as Christian Yelich (to the Milwaukee Brewers) and Marcell Ozuna (to the St. Louis Cardinals) both moved to the National League Central for prospect packages for the struggling Marlins.
While there has been plenty of talk about trades happening, involving big-time franchise anchors, there has been little to no public traction made. With that in mind, here is the first installment in the series of potential blockbuster deals.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, who were lulled into trading valuable minor league prospects to the Tampa Bay Rays by false hope, acquired ace Chris Archer before the deadline to help with a late playoff push. Much to the chagrin of both the Pirates front office and fan base, the move did not work out as planned and the team was soon after eliminated from playoff contention.
The NL Central looks to be the league’s most difficult division, competing with the American League East for that crown. The Chicago Cubs made the Wild Card round last season, the Brewers passed the Cubs in game 163 for the divisional crown and fell one game short of making the World Series, and the Cardinals made big-time moves this offseason of trading for slugging first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and bringing in free agent reliever Andrew Miller to compete for the division title.
The Pirates, not wanting to be left behind, are a logical destination for Detroit Tigers right fielder and offensive powerhouse Nicholas Castellanos, who has publicly requested a trade from the struggled AL Central squad. The Pirates would immensely benefit from adding Castellanos, but would again need to dip into their system to make any deal work.
For the Tigers, they would be looking to restock the cupboard for 2020 and beyond, as this current team is not built to compete. The issue for the return is that while the Tigers should expect a decent amount, with Castellanos being in his walk year he will not command as much.
In a package, the Pirates should have to give up two top-30 prospects, as they are notorious for overpaying. With that being the case, the Tigers would be smart to look for a down-the-road prospect and an MLB-ready player who can showcase his talent now.
The Pirates 17th-best prospect, RHP Clay Holmes, who had a cup of coffee with the Pirates in his career with 11 games and 26.1 IP, would be a nice starting piece in the deal. He is projected to move to the bullpen but is being stretched out as a starter, as his sinker-changeup-cutter combination makes him one of the better ground ball guys across the minors with a 2.27 groundout-to-flyout ratio.
The other prospect could potentially fall around 25th in Pittsburgh’s system, and catcher Deon Sanders fits the bill, as he projects as a more of an offensive-minded backstop who should provide serviceable backup quality play as a catcher around 2021-22 in the majors.
A surprisingly hot topic during the offseason, a deal between the San Francisco Giants and the Brewers seemed to be progressing along, as the Central champs were looking for the final piece to their puzzle. Up to this point, there has been no traction and a deal seems unlikely to occur.
The Houston Astros, fresh off another strong season, left Dallas Keuchel walk in free agency, and while he is still unsigned, it does not seem likely he will be back. Therefore, to add a frontline starter to the rotation, the Astros should look at bringing Bumgarner to Houston.
With this being his final year before hitting free agency, he will not require selling the farm, but a pitcher of his quality will require key pieces for a deal to work.
For the Astros, their best prospect is outfielder Kyle Tucker, who has been drawing rave reviews throughout the minors. Currently blocked in the majors with the deal of Michael Brantley, the Astros could look to send Tucker to San Francisco for one year of Bum. Houston has been public about their willingness to include Tucker in deals, and this could be the perfect chance for that.
In addition, third baseman and 23rd-best prospect Abraham Toro would be the nice bow on the package, as he is projected for 2021 arrival in the league and would fit into the future plans of the Giants.
The first of two deals involving the Brewers in this series, Greinke would be returning to the team that acquired him in the winter of 2010 to help lead their upcoming year’s playoff push. Greinke, who publicly said how much he enjoyed pitching in Miller Park would be a welcomed addition back to the squad and help anchor the rotation.
The caveat for Milwaukee is his monster of a contract, as he has three years left on his deal that pays him between $34.5 and $35 million each year, a huge burden for a small market team. However, some of his money could be offset in the package going back to the Diamondbacks.
The bigger salaries on the team that should be moveable are starting pitcher Chase Anderson and first baseman Eric Thames, who both have underperformed since being signed or been injured. If this was a part of the return, the Diamondbacks would be taking on $12.5 million in 2019 and $16 million in 2020, with Anderson having an extra year left on his deal in 2021.
This would help offset the monetary impact on Milwaukee, but could also change the prospect return as well. If Arizona could be convinced to take on money, then the prospects would most certainly be better, something along the lines of #14 and #16 prospects, both RHP Caden Lemons and Adrian Houser.
Houser rode the transit system back and forth from Triple AAA and the big leagues this year, and Lemons is two or three years away from the majors.